The Rocky Saga Round III


Everyone, including Sylvester Stallone believed Rocky Balboa was the last film in the series and it ended perfectly with Rocky (and Stallone) saying a final goodbye to his fans.

But I guess you just can’t keep a great character down as Rocky is back in Creed.
Creed is not technically considered a true sequel to the Rocky franchise, but more of a spin off instead, a kind of passing the torch film if you will.
Now I have personally avoided as much as I can with this film as I want it to be a surprise. I watched the first trailer for the film and I know the synopsis. But I’ve left it at that.

So what is there to know about Creed?


Creed: Written by and directed by Ryan Coogler (no Sylvester Stallone for the first time in the series) picks up after the events of Rocky Balboa. Rocky is still running the restaurant, Adrian’s, when he gets a visit from a stranger.
A young boxer comes to Rocky and asks if he would train him. That young boxer is. Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s former rival and friend. Adonis was born after Apollo died so never knew his father.
Adonis is a fighter with so much spirit and passion, coupled with the blood of his father running through his veins and the up most respect for Rocky himself.

Rocky eventually agrees to help train Adonis and…that’s as much as I know about the film.

But from what I have seen, I’m really looking forward to it. It seems to be carrying on from the last film with its more grounded in reality approach and more character focused.
I have heard some rumours about the film from Rocky dying to a cameo from the man that killed Apollo, Drago. But rumours are rumours.

I have glanced at a few reviews and so far it is getting praised a lot. Sounds like its a good film.

I am looking forward to seeing this film myself and if successful, it could even become its own franchise.
In 30 years from now, we could be watching Creed VII.

Creed 2

Anyway, that is yer actual Rocky Saga right there all six (or seven) films summarised.
But what do I think of them and the series as a whole?


The Rocky Saga: For me, there are plenty of ups and downs throughout the series. There are some genuinely heartbreaking moments and there are some downright stupid moments.

But as a whole collection, I love it. Even if boxing is not your thing there is still a whole lot to enjoy here as boxing is never the main focus of the films. Its the characters, the relationships and the stories that are always at the forefront. Boxing is just the backdrop the films take place against.

The fact that the soundtrack is pretty amazing helps to.
If you are somebody who had trouble getting up in the morning. Change the alarm on you phone to the main Rocky theme or Eye Of The Tiger, I guarantee you’ll hop out of bed thinking you can take on the world.

A great series of films that, despite more than a few times when it all gets silly, provides a great bit of storytelling and give us one of the most charming and endearing characters ever caught on film with Rocky.

So what do I think of each of the films?

Rocky: It’s a simple story but told really well. It’s a basic underdog tale that had been done to death. Yet this version seems quite refreshing.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky is believable and also shows that Stallone can write and act. The supporting cast are also golden.
Rocky did win 3 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. As well as being nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sylvester Stallone), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Talia Shire), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burgess Meredith and Burt Young), Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Sylvester Stallone) as well as Best Sound and Best Music.
Brilliant film and for me, the best of the lot.

Rocky II: Was there a need for a sequel? Not really, the first film is one that stands on its own. But we got a sequel (several in fact) and for the most part I really enjoy this one.

However, there is one major thing that bugs me about this film. That is how stupid Rocky is made out to be. Now granted, Rocky had never been the sharpest knife in the draw. But he was never “stupid”.

Yet in this film (to paraphrase another film) they go full retard. Rocky can’t read…since when? He managed perfectly fine in the first film. All the jokes shoehorned in to play on how stupid Rocky is, like the condominium thing. The fact Rocky blows all his money on fast cars and a nice jacket, etc.
He is just a complete imbecile in this one.

Again Rocky was never a mastermind…but he was still smart, he always had a good head on his shoulders. He was never dumb, yet that is how he is portrayed in this film.
If they ever made an Airplane! style parody of Rocky, this is how the character would be portrayed, directly from this film as the character almost seems like a parody anyway.

Good sequel, but the way they dumbed down Rocky as a character was annoying.

Rocky III: I really enjoy this one more than Rocky II for two main reasons.

1) Rocky is not a complete moron any more.
2) Mr.T.

I love Clubber Lang, by far my favourite Rocky villain. Everything he does is pure awesome. His put downs and insults, the character is just so alive. This film is also where “I pity the fool” comes from.
This film launched the career of Mr.T and it was this role that landed him a part on The-A-Team TV show.

Mickey’s death is quite heartbreaking and the whole idea of Rocky being blinded by his own celebrity status was an interesting dynamic as was bringing in Apollo as Rocky’s trainer. Giving some insight and building on their friendship and respect they have for each other.

Good sequel and great extension of the characters.

Rocky IV: Okay, now things get really, really stupid.

This film is both one of the most silly, over the top, redundant films ever made and yet also one of the singular most amazing things ever committed to film.
Its a terrible Rocky film and sequel, but also such a great film to sit back and enjoy.

There are problems with the writing. Like if Rocky was so adamant Apollo should postpone the fight, why did he wait until minutes before the fight started to tell him? Then seeing as Rocky was fully aware at how dangerous Drago was, why did he throw the towel in AFTER Apollo gets beaten senseless and not before? Yeah Rocky, its your fault Apollo is dead.

But you know the worst thing in this film? That damn talking robot given to Paulie for his birthday present. A talking robot…in a Rocky film? People got upset over aliens in Indiana Jones, that was nothing. It may have o ly been in a couple of scenes but still, that was enough to be unbelievably annoying.

Then there is Drago himself who is basically a super human. Some kind of mega boss battle you’d find in a video game. I really like Dolph Lundgren in the role and the character…but he was still a bit too over the top really.
To finish, that damn ending where Rocky ends the cold war and unites America and Russia as friends. Its all just a tad too cheesy and clearly a film of its time. I’m sure people were up out of their seats watching this back in 1985 (unless you were Russian), but now it is a little cringe worthy.

Still that James Brown introduction for the Creed/Drago fight was awesome. Best fight introduction ever.

Yet as I said, despite its problems Rocky IV is a fun film to watch. Really damn stupid but still a whole lot of fun.

Rocky V: Pretty much universally hated. Even Sylvester Stallone himself has disowned this one (not Rocky IV with its talking robot and superhuman Russian). The next film, Rocky Balboa has a flashback to every Rocky film previously…except this one.

You know, I really like this one though. Yeah the whole father son thing is tedious and feels shoehorned in just because Sage Stallone was playing the son and the bullying sub-plot is just pointless. But I still enjoy this film as it gets back to reality and back to characters.

Tommy was a great character and a refreshing change to see someone turn on Rocky like he did, despite all Rocky did for him.
There are plenty of throwbacks and references to the original film with Rocky back in his old neighbourhood. I enjoy the idea of Rocky becoming the mentor figure that Mickey once was to him.

Plus that final street fight is amazing and good to see something different from the norm in a Rocky film.

Yeah, despite Sylvester Stallone really, really hating this film himself and many of the fans agreeing. I’ll always stand by Rocky V as a better sequel than IV and one that gets things back on track. I just have to ignore Sage Stallone as Robert Balboa and the film is great.

Rocky Balboa: I was one of those that made the old jokes when this film was announced. Really, another Rocky film with an ageing Stallone? As much as I love the films, Rocky V was enough and where it should have ended.

I even made the pre-decision to not bother to watch this one and avoided it for ages.
Then I brought the Rocky DVD box set and this film was included, so may as well watch it.
To be quite honest, I was blown away. The film is the best since the original and really gets back to basics.
Its all about characters with very little spectacle. Its a good honest story told well and written brilliantly.

Stallone gives an amazing performance as Rocky here and the whole film is full of emotion. Rocky taking his anniversary tour of the places he used to go with Adrian just tugs at the heart strings. Plus there are a couple of well written speeches that mirror the kind of flack Stallone was getting for wanting to do this film. Like the speech Rocky gives at the boxing commission when he applies for a licence or the one he gives to his Robert when he tries to talks him out of fighting again.
Really puts me in mind of the original film.

The fact they filmed the fight with a real life boxer and all filmed during a real boxing match during a real pay per view event adds a lot of, well realism. Probably the best fight in the whole series.

The decision to replace the actor playing Rocky’s son (replacing Stallone’s real life son) was a tough but good idea as the dynamic between the two actors is brilliant. Stallone is better here acting alongside Milo Ventimiglia than he was with his real son Sage in Rocky V.
Killing off Adrian off screen was also a ballsy move and a gamble that really works as we now get to see Rocky with nothing, which was what he had at the start of his journey. This really helps and adds plenty of believability and gravitas to the character.

Great film and an apt end to the character that has lasted so long.


Rocky Balboa is one of my all time favourite film characters. He is simple but charming, tough but caring. Seeing the character grow from humble beginnings though his rise to stardom and his fall from grace over the series of films is an epic and emotional roller coaster.
He had endured for almost 40 years because he is such a great character. I already believed I said goodbye to the character at the end of the last film (and yes I had a lump in my throat), but he is back once more and I’m more than happy to see him again. But I will miss him when he finally is gone for good.

I can’t wait to watch Creed.


The Rocky Saga Round II

So we have seen Rocky emerge as an amateur boxer, rise through the ranks to become a celebrity. Be broken down and rebuilt as he used to be.
What next for Rocky? Well how about he tries to end the cold war and bring peace between America and Russia…yeah really.

Rocky IV

Rocky IV: Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone (again) This is where things got a little bit “silly” with the series.

Rocky is back on form and in the best shape of his life. When the Russians turn up in America with their super boxer called Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and claiming that this Drago is the best boxer in the world and can beat anyone including Rocky.

Apollo Creed retired 5 years ago, and does not take kindly to the Russians and their claims and decides to take on Drago in an exhibition fight. Rocky tries to talk Apollo out of the fight claiming he is not the same fighter he was years ago, but Apollo just refuses to listen. Apollo convinces Rocky he can still fight and even win and also talks Rocky into being his corner man.

After an explosive pre-fight interview, fight night is here.
Rocky is not too sure about the fight and suggests that Apollo postpone it for a few weeks, but Apollo dismisses Rocky’s doubts and the fight goes ahead.

After the greatest fight introduction ever featuring James Brown and long-ish story short. After round 1, Rocky wants to stop the fight as Apollo is getting destroyed but Apollo refuses to end it and starts round 2. Drago pummels Apollo with Duke and Apollo’s wife calling to end the fight and Rocky to throw in the towel But Rocky does not end the fight as Apollo asked. Apollo goes down after a severe beating and he dies in the ring.

This enrages Rocky to point of fighting Drago himself on Christmas day on his home turf of Russia. The press go wild while Adrian gets angry that Rocky is doing this.

Rocky sets off to Russia to train with Paulie and Apollo’s trainer, Duke.
Drago trains using state of the art technology and even drugs, while Rocky goes old school by using an old farmhouse and its surroundings as his gym.

Sure enough the big fight is here and the entire crowd boo Rocky and support Drago. Rocky takes a beating but refuses to go down. Eventually Rocky turns the tide and the crowd star cheering him on and he defeats the Russian giant on his home turf by KO in the last round. Rocky delivers an all too 80s “world peace” speech and the previously hostile Russian crowd are all Rocky supporters.

Now that Rocky has single handedly ended the cold war between America and Russia by defeating a super human. Time to get back to reality.

Rocky V

Rocky V: Again written by Sylvester Stallone but he does not direct this one. Retuning as director is John G. Avildsen.
So the original writer and director from the first film are back. What could go wrong?

Picking up directly after Rocky IV. Rocky is showering after the Drago fight when he realises he can’t stop his hands from shaking.
Retuning to America a hero for ending the cold war. While holding a press conference where Rocky is questioned on his health, boxing promoter George Washington Duke (Richard Gant) appears and asks Rocky to allow one of his boxers challenge Rocky for the heavyweight title. Adrian says Rocky is retired (yet again) and the challenge is turned down.
Shortly after Rocky finds out that Paulie has lost all the money by signing over power of attorney to their accountant.

Rocky agrees to the title fight challenge, but Adrian asks him to visit a doctor first.
He goes to a doctor to seek medical treatment. He is told he is suffering from brain damage as a result of his years of boxing and that he can never fight again. Rocky finally agrees to retire.

Rocky is broke and has to sell his mansion and possessions. The family move back to Rocky’s old neighbourhood and Rocky starts running Mickey’s old gym.
George Washington Duke continues to pursue Rocky for the fight and even harasses Adrian.
This is when a young and eager amateur boxer called Tommy Gunn (real boxer; Tommy Morrison) finds Rocky. Tommy asks Rocky to manage and train him to help further his boxing career.
After some thought, Rocky agrees and takes Tommy under his wing and even puts a roof over his head. Pushing his own son aside doing so.
Rocky and Tommy do well as Tommy makes his way up the boxing ladder. But Tommy’s ego keeps growing with his success and craves a title fight. George Washington Duke takes an interest in Tommy and poaches him away from Rocky by promising him riches and a title fight.

Rocky believes Tommy is making a mistake, as Tommy hits the big time he seemingly forgets all about the help Rocky gave him. Tommy gets his title fight and becomes heavyweight champion.
The press begin to push Tommy pointing out he will never be as good as Rocky. Tommy is upset by the insinuations and George Washington Duke coerces him into fighting Rocky.

Back in Rocky’s neighbourhood, George Washington Duke and Tommy call Rocky out for a boxing match which Rocky declines. Until Tommy hits Paulie and Rocky declares a fight…but not a boxing match, a street brawl.
They head out into the street for the fight which Rocky wins.
Oh and there is a (pointless) bullying sub plot involving Rocky’s son.

So that is where Rocky is left. No money, no prospects and back in his old neighbourhood, back where he started. But he is happy.

For a while, Rocky V was said to be the final Rocky film, until…


Rocky Balboa: Sylvester Stallone is back as writer and director again. As he tries to bring closure to the character and bring Rocky back into reality.

Picking up many years after Rocky V. Adrian has died and Rocky’s son moved out to live his own life. Rocky is all alone. He has a tenuous and strained relationship with his son, Robert (Milo Ventimiglia) who has grown tired of being “Rocky’s son” and wants his own life.
Rocky now owns and runs a restaurant called Adrian’s after his wife. He spends a lot of time telling his old boxing stories to his customers and reliving his past.

At the old bar he used to drink at he finds an old acquaintance, Marie (Geraldine Hughes). They strike up a friendship and Rocky takes a liking to her son Steps (James Francis Kelly III) and tries to get the father/son relationship he has lost with his own son.
Meanwhile, Rocky starts to feel there is something inside him, some demons that need exorcising. He wants to fight again, but nothing big. Just small local fights. He applies for a boxing licence and is turned down, but after a passionate speech to the boxing board, he is awarded a licence.

The current heavyweight champ, Mason “The Line ” Dixon (real boxer; Antonio Tarver) is the new all star boxer.
A computer simulation shows a simulated fight between Rocky in his prime and Mason which predicts that Rocky would win. The simulation gets the public talking and angers Mason and his management team.
Mason’s management team go to Adrian’s to ask Rocky if he would be interested in an exhibition fight in Las Vegas with Mason. Rocky is not interested as he only wants small, local fights but he agrees to think about it. Rocky is apprehensive and feels the fight is too big. After some pondering and talking to Marie he decides to take the offer up.

Robert thinks the fight is a terrible idea and goes to talk his father out of it. Rocky gives Robert some home truths and he decides to quit his job to be with his father and support him and his need to fight. Robert becomes part of Rocky’s training team.

Rocky once again uses Apollo’s trainer, Duke to help him get in shape for the fight. Knowing his limitations and using Rocky’s old age and experience as an advantage.

It’s fight night and its a pretty close call. The fight goes the distance but Rocky loses.
However, he never wanted to win and the film has a great ending where Rocky just leaves the ring not caring about the result. While saying goodbye to his fans.
He done what he set out to do.

So there you go, round II of the Rocky Saga done and dusted. But its not over yet there’s still round III where I take a quick look at the new Creed film as well as offer my own views on each of the Rocky films and talk a little about the series as a whole.